tv Book Discussion on Hell and Good Company CSPAN February 28, 2015 5:00pm-6:04pm EST
there legally action able whatsoever. so that's easy. then there's the question of how you have the right pollution standards and, ultimately, it's a big issue. i'm much more of the view that this should be resolved, you know, much more in courts actually than by an agency like epa. so that -- there's a really good essay in the book "climate coup" by this guy named roger pilon which gives a pretty good
critique of the executive state in this issue and gives a positive alternative. i'm in that school, but it's definitely not my focus. part of the reason it's the moral case is to evaluate what is the impact on human life and then give certain rough political guidance but that's a guide for policymakers to say we cannot be trying to outlaw this stuff that's fundamentally good for human life. so that's what i'm attempting to do with the book but there's tons more work to do beyond that. >> all right. well, good news, we have copies of alex's book outside, and i'm sure he'd be happy to sign them. >> yes. >> okay, great. please join me in thanking alex, and thank you for coming. [applause] ..
>> historian, journalists, novelist, pulitzer prize winner. shortlisted pulitzer prize for dark son the making of the hydrogen bomb. there is also a novel about the daughter party biographies of hedy lamar hedy's bali which is fabulous. the scope of what he does is so fun. i am sure you will have your own personal favorites, but
anyway you have seen him on front line, on the american experience. he has worked for years under grants with guggenheim, ford, macarthur all of those been a scholar and resident at harvard. he and his wife, ginger, a clinical psychologist, doctor ginger roads lives in california. they have two children and grandchildren. it is a trait -- it is a treat tonight because he brings us "hell and good company: the spanish civil war and the world it made". please join in welcoming richard rhodes. [applause] >> thank you very much. thank you for having me tonight. one of the casualties of moving into the spaces we do not have my slides.
i we will have to be a serious offer and describe the images. there basically pictures from the time of the war and i suspect you have seen most of them at one time or another. i came across the subject for this book -- well i should say 1st, they're must be 500 books on the spanish civil war. by the time i acquired most of them they filled have my library, and it was "hell and good company" by the time i was finished. there still coming as there always are with history aspects of the war that really never get covered. probably the definitive history of the work, there is literally just one paragraph about the many medical innovations that occurred during the spanish civil war, which is something i write about read about at some length.
they're are several books on picasso painting is great painting but the background for it really does not get expressed very often. so as i have often found when i choose a particular subject to write about much of the history is they're but some of the most interesting is still buried in the documents and letters and pieces that make history which is in the light because you want to tell the stories. there's a lot left out. between the legitimately democratically elected government the next government.
everything from anarchists on one end to communists at the other. the dominant part being the middle democratic conservative liberal, all of that. the war has been painted in all the year sense the communists against the fascists. it was a legitimate government and a in a country where the generals in which they have far too had far too many, the generals thought that the best way to solve any problem politically was to stage a coup d'état that's basically what happens in august of 1936. francisco franco this intense little man, 5 feet 4 inches, rather overweight but dangerously smart as
generals go had been essentially exiled to one of the islands in the middle of the atlantic to get him them out of spain so economic he could not cause trouble. if you are your history. the savages lower than human and therefore could be treated in ways during war that europe was not yet treated each other. so franco, in fact, in the early 20s and what i in what i think was about the 2nd major battle they actually used in
discernible. it is not known until many years later but it is a very clear think that they're was a good deal of use on the berbers. berbers were muslim. so when franco decided that it was time for him to take over spain he was based close. he flew they're. first military in history. the medical and military technology, the 1st airlift which he had to go to hitler to request. a good idea at 1st that he just had been to a performance of bargain and was full of bulgarian music and want to the subject.
sitting there wishing they had not left for dinner. germany had been for but by the terms of there surrender treated to have an air force. so they had cleverly taken there military pilots and converted them to pilots aircraft that could easily be converted from civilian airliners to bombers. pulling together to invade his country. spain is a peninsula hanging down from france in europe
the country so dominated something like 60 percent of the spanish population is still illiterate. they set up 17,000 public schools between 1931 in 1936 so the people were deeply embittered by being essentially serves to the church which had aligned itself with the nobility the wealthy. and the wealthy had suppressed the peasantry. and in the early weeks of the war when franco's mercenaries were fighting their way toward madrid and they're were some battles going on with the fascists
side of the army like barcelona and madrid and elsewhere their had been the formation spontaneously of malicious under various political groups. fighting without much in the way of military force. they literally have so few guns that they were forced to wait until someone on the lines were shot. they were able to keep the fascist forces out of there cities. because we felt that the people of spain were not much better than the savages you been fighting in north africa they were pacifying
at the same time at the same time there were some 6000 priests killed in the early weeks of the world by the civilian militias fighting against the fascists. once the government to cold and started to form the professional army the army officers defected to franco side. so the army was headless for a while. once the government started taking control of the military they stopped all of the massacres on the republican side but continued throughout the war. he felt that he could not
just moving quickly and take madrid. he had a pacifying every county went through. there is a famous picture showing a militia men standing up in front of a huge statue of christ which was part of a conservative catholic fellowship that have built the statues all over spain where people were literally starving. babies had big bellies protein deficiency. they spent an enormous amount of money.
that was called and it was a chance for hitler 1st to make mischief so that as he said in one of his conferences we can go ahead and do will we are doing and people won't be looking at us. but it was off for a all for a chance to test out their weaponry. people speak of the spanish civil war relatively small war in a little, backward part of europe as a testbed. from what other side elsewhere in the world they tried to test out whatever knew equipment they had. they did not donate the equipment.
he sold it to them for spanish gold. tanks, aircraft, artillery, weapons there was this kind of contest that was larger. in the sense that you think about they're were these other countries involved there was a strong roman catholic pressure on roosevelt that he did not feel he could get into the war particularly when he was being opposed. unfortunately the united states did not step in any way at all.
they have access to all sorts of equipment. they threw in about a hundred thousand soldiers during the course of the war one of the reasons italy was defeated was because it is really just overused what it had not prepared this top fighting through the 2nd world war. they were, among the volunteers some people who
were particularly, i think interesting. and i wrote about them in more detail. one of the things that happened was the development for the 1st time in war of stored blood and frontline blood transfusions. during the 1st world war there had been some blood transfusion that have been laid in the same world war. it was basically a collective here and carried it over there and put it in a bottle and put it in the wounded soldier. the soviet union was such a big country and have developed stored blood. they figured out how to treat the blood that they collected in hospitals in moscow with sodium site trait to prevent it from plotting and it could be refrigerated for a couple of
weeks before it was no longer useful. they did that so they could ship it to their country. they had to be brought back from the frontlines all the way to a hospital in the rear end were bleeding out in what were basically and saying what made by the time they get to the hospital. and so spanish doctor and
independently a canadian dr. who was a volunteer developed a system of collecting blood. the canadian dr. came to spain and did not no quite what he was going to do but quickly realized that they're was a place for blood collection and delivery, so he developed a blood service. he had 1000 women and madrid who were signed up to give a pint of blood once a month which would then be treated and stored. they had a big fish delivery truck that was refrigerated to carry the blood and. that is one of the things that always amazed me. there was a photograph in the book i could not find that shows a table covered with bottles of blood ready to be delivered to the frontlines. sonu was the technology that the bottles sterilized milk bottles and wine bottles. it was only later that they standardized a bottle for
delivery of blood but it saved a lot of lives. then the other thing about this little or that fascinated me, when the 2nd world war came in the spanish civil war in april of 39 and then of course the war started in europe with the german invasion of poland in september of 39 so there was just a small gap between the two. with the 2nd world war came along here was all of this benevolent medical technology ready to go for the much larger theaters of war. and a lot of lives were saved, of course with things like stored blood transfusion that was developed originally for this little regional civil war. another aspect of the medical development of the war was the invention of triage.
those of you with any medical background no the triage is a way of sorting when you have a lot of old sorting them to get maximum use of limited next -- limited medical service. that was developed as well during the spanish war. the doctors realized that if they always worked on the most seriously wounded 1st that some of the more likely -- more lightly wounded make it worse and they're were some among the casualties who were not going to live whatever you did for them who probably under those conditions simply needed pain relief and being set aside. that is triage, command that was devised by some of these
in this case british doctors who had come to spain to help out during the war. interestingly, when one of these doctors was to see the soviet general who was running that particular battalion of the military told them what they were planning to do in terms of how they were going to sort casualties and the fact that the mortally wounded might not be treated basically except for pain relief the general rather than say that makes sense was furious and said you savages. i we will put you in the front lines with know weapons if you do that. get out of my tent. they eventually evidently were able to work around the general and use this basically life-saving technology not only to sort in a way that allow them to work on those who needed the work 1st but also to be
able to put men back in battle if lightly wounded once treated for their wounds. of course they were constantly short of men. so another part of the story that intrigued me was picasso's great painting. when i was an undergraduate in college and had come from a farm in missouri for the 1st time in my life i had a chance to look at art. i was near new york and was able to go to the museum of modern art to look at what to me was simply the greatest painting in history of the world which was picasso's great painting. it is 25 feet long and about 10 feet high about the size of a movie screen all in black and white. all of the creatures and people the horse, the ball
the various women figures in the painting because it is a painting that represents the bombing of the small town in northern spain in april of 1937 at a time when picasso had agreed to provide a mural for an exhibition spanish republican exhibition has been in france at the big international exposition that was opening in the summer of 1937 , but he could not figure out what he wanted to paint. he had just gone through the year when he did not painted all and it is not quite clear why except he was going through a terrible divorce from his russian ballerina wife and she had very quickly pointed out to him that there were
committee property laws in france and that she would be getting half of everything he owned. that did not make him happy at all and he certainly did not want to create any more paintings so he just stopped for a year. richard steinberg of him that he seems to be a very happy man sitting around cafés in paris holding court about politics and things and did not have a care in the world because he was not working. eventually finally when the spanish civil war started he became very engaged and was chosen by the spanish republic to be the director of the product the great spanish museum and participated in moving all of the paintings to a safe place outside of madrid inside of an old medieval castle that was so thick
walled the bombing would not face it. and he donated money to the war and did everything he could sort of participating. but he spent the next three months kind of scratching his head. what on earth am i going to paint. he did various paintings but they were all of one of his two mistresses. somehow he just could not get the word going in and said. then came the bombing when they deliberately tried to see if with high explosives and could burn down an entire city with just one day bombing. of course, a famously succeeded. the city of about 6,000 people killed at least
1,000 people and one afternoon a bombing. the beginning of the kind of fire bombing of cities that we all have read about. for me writing is i have about hiroshima and 90 sake it is a very direct line. when it started picasso was immensely incensed that this should happen and had his subject and started painting is huge this huge mural of a painting and painted for about a month. and this is a man who could finish a major painting literally in one day. there is a reason why his legacy with some 50,000 paintings but this one was,
i think, probably his greatest work. he was singularly deeply engaged in it and painted almost nonstop for weeks and weeks and weeks to get it right. i have a whole chapter in my book devoted to how he did that how he worked out the various aspects, one of the things that you we will see is that everyone in the painting is looking up and screaming because that is where the bombs are coming from. there is a photograph of picasso i am looking at right now standing in front of this huge canvas tainting with what looks like a mop. [laughter] sometimes had to get up on a ladder with this long handled brush to do this painting. it is an extraordinary work. today if you go into the museum where it is located you walk into the room -- my
wife was with me and had never seen the painting before, and she burst into tears. it is just such a powerful depiction of pain and suffering and horror. one of the things that i have noticed about it one of the historians who has written about it seems to comment but it looks like a movie screen. it is a movie screen in silence black and white has newsreels were in those days and seemed clear the motion pictures an art form potentially. he was invoking the sense of an israel. the patterns on the bodies of some of the figures little marks that from a distance look like lines of type on a newsprint page. pretty clear that he worked into his painting an extraordinary set of
allusions to previous paintings. and i spent several pages in that chapter tracking some of them down. the most interesting at least one spanish historian in a rather obscure symposium that was held at the museum of modern art that i tracked down a transcript of is that their -- you may remember the head of the a woman coming out of a window for the other torch. i think she is holding a lamp in the final painting. in earlier versions she was holding a torch. it is the statue of liberty. it turns out that there are six versions of the statue of liberty around paris. the original model that was made. there is a statue of liberty
at the pond in on the seine river in the middle of the city. not as big as the final version but some are pretty big. he had plenty of chances to see this particular statute. it coming out of the window the head is that of one of his mistresses. he seems to have borrowed it when people came to visit at night they evidently did not have the front porch light. she would hold out a lantern letter to see who was they're. this kind of weaving of associations to make a painting is just dance with allusions to all parts of life. another painting that was done at the same time by juan miro at the same exhibition in paris is
another that i describe. i won't go into detail about it except to say after this was another huge work in bright primary colors and it was an angry presence. just ready to kill someone. it is an allusion to a peasant revolution that happened in spain in the early 17th century. but it was painted on the a kind of wallboard. after the exhibition closed in 1938 it was lost. no one knows what happened to it. one of his great paintings. on the remains of it are three or four photographs. so let me go quickly to the
other part of the story that really engaged me and well i think, engage you. people fell in love and i found in english nurse tall, blue-eyed really quite beautiful, one of those angels of mercy. and the nurses here wartime and the conditions were not sanitary they all were white nurses uniforms and's. her name was patients. she was an upper middle-class englishman. her father had run a publishing house that it failed. there were living in hard times. she developed a social conscience. when she heard that the spanish republic needed medical people she volunteered. eventually in the course of
moving from hospital to hospital command the strange hospitals or a were disaster. they were basically the nurses in spain were all nouns therefore they could not undress the patient's. so these poor soldiers covered with fleas and lice" and dirty uniforms they have been wearing for months but beholden to hospital that itself was not very clean, turned onto a bed and just given food and water and that's about it. patients would go to one of these hospitals with the core of english nurses and just cutting out the place. she described one place where for at least a generation the doctors and nurses have been throwing all of the waste from the
surgery and everything else out the windows and to regard. she said when you open the window there was a cloud of flies coming up from this god-awful pit of material. she got the doctors to clean that up. this grant everything down. the nuns were not prepared to handle naked bodies of men. inevitably the young spanish girls who were usually literate but who were not stupid and he wanted very much to be of help them in the english nurses also did at least some of the things that nurses do. ultimately as franco bradley moved down and tried to make it to madrid. he left and artillery there to show the city constantly
and moved up to take over the whole basque region of spain and that is when the bombing occurred. once he had that he came back, toward madrid. by the summer 38 he basically had the country cut in half. there was a huge river east of where franco's forces were what kind of was the entrance to catalonia that part of spain -- forgetting the name of the city. that wonderful town. barcelona. yes. thank you. it became the capitol for the republic and there was
going to be a last ditch effort to keep franco's forces out of catalonia by sending a surprise attack across the river which was kind of the dividing line. everyone trained for it. the spanish but everything it had into the fight. they needed a fight in the front lines to deal with the severely wounded. they could not really moving far. they found the case of than the hills above the river. it was more like a shelter about 150 feet across with a the huge little of stone overhead and the kind of mask shaped opening with stone above it.
and because it was facing out to a narrow valley the german planes could not die then and strafe the hospital it was too narrow. so it was hard to get they're. they had to drag him up the mountainside basically. they built a hundred 20-foot hospital inside this neolithic shelter. i visited when i went to spain. it is a memorial now. about 50 feet. miraculously there was a spring of fresh water coming out. it was a nice place. but there patients with the nurses and doctors set up a hospital.
let me just read to you what she wrote. it was very uncomfortable, dark and uneven. you could barely see. lights. we had lights for the surgical theater run off of one of our ambulances but we had not come light and have to do our work by little tiny oil lamps tin 1030. >> and then. it is not much light and you cannot see across the cave. we have an awful lot against us, are a lot more artillery and we were obviously very near because
we had a lot of mortar wounds much bigger, much more smashed out. motors take great chunks out of people if they survive at all. we tended to get people at night because the show was so enormous that they cannot move the day. for the 1st time we get them sometimes hours after they had been wounded. so she goes on talking about all the children who were not drafted into the republic army to fight hopefully against the fascists, and we saw what happened when i got to the front. and to hear the kids say it was terrible when i saw what was going to happen to them.
so before this time she had not -- she met a young german anti- nazi was a carpenter. they had fallen in love. they have fallen had fallen in love and had managed to meet in various places all over spain. she wrote where she talked in a wonderful way but how about how much they loved each other and how she learned about what all those things people talk about. wonderful description of how she thought. a german jew whose family had lived in the 1930s to study what became israel and then have been found out and
have volunteered to fight with the spanish republic during the war. and while she was at the hospital just a magical place if your ever in spain and get to that region you must visit. it is now a memorial for still very much the way that it was. so with the end she got word one day toward the end of the battle that robert had stepped on a mine. and she went crazy for a few days. she was so horrified. she put so much hope and the relationship hoping somehow that they would survive the war like so many of the men who fought in that war he did not. one of the doctors who worked for in the the next few days hearing of her grief and exercising or is
curious passion arranged for transfer to the battlefront. she said the move to the front like the sort sort of darkening. patients road his parents with news of his death. she is praying for an end of his or telling them she had loved him and cherish the photograph and the shorts of his last eight months were full of joy. patients was one of my 40,000 international volunteers and changed her mind about war. for from the community she
wrote of her husband's and heard now in a common grave among his comrades. he was a revelation of how to live in fact against the thing that is trying to ruin the world. so those are just a few of the stories about this extraordinary war in the middle of nowhere acclaimed half a million lives. i hope you enjoy it and have a chance to read it. thank you very much. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> i would be happy to talk about any of my other books. the perfect subject. >> could you 1st forward a few years?
why did franco helped hitler during the 2nd world war, particularly in regard to gibraltar? if the spanish forces had taken gibraltar it would have been a serious problem for the british. >> you really shot his bold during the spanish civil war. he had nothing left, and he knew that and was a relief really can be little dictator. he found ways to put hitler off until it was too late. heather hitler was not happy about it, but he had his hands full elsewhere. he had used what he had. the spanish have an incredible story of gold that the government health from south america all that call that have been shipped off to spain which was pretty much gone for by the end of the spanish war that had been taken by franco or
have been used to buy the material needed for the war. he was not just volunteering to help out the spanish. >> yes. >> a couple of comments or questions you. i can find one of those he was a franco soldier during the war. i gently confronted him and he said, franco brought the longest time of's piece in spanish history. i remember him saying that. whether it is true or not i don't know. also, why did franco bring back the dynasty upon his death?
>> well, i know less about that time. he wanted -- there have been a long tradition among the gentiles that supported a monarchy and he wanted to do that. one of the prizes he exacted for bringing back the monarchy was that he insisted on being allowed to educate the young king but somehow some kind of more liberal conception of his country carried through for the young king they have transformed the so much to world wars and moved in the direction of governments that were more responsive to the people of europe. there is a reason why they have socialist i have socialist governments with lots of benefits basically because the postwar governments did not want another we will.
i am not entirely sure why franco supported the king who basically install the democratic monarchy but he at least did. that is as much as i know about that. he was not a nice guy. he knocked off 100,000 people after the war. if you have a union card you would be taken out and shot and most of the men who fought for the republic were basically slave labor. they built all these grandiose monuments all over spain the valley of the following in spain is sort of the pyramid of franco and his fellow generals. it is not a happy place to be. they were half starved. franco very cleverly realized that he just signout the united states if he promoted his sincere
anti- communism and got a great deal of money from us for many years to support his government. >> yes. >> just as a follow-on to the gentleman it seems to me like the spanish civil war was a very divisive war and one that created a lot of family splits. and that carried on to the war and carried on after the war and that is the one that i don't believe as you get. >> no, it has not. >> and from that standpoint
what i heard before about what he saw in madrid in 1975, it is true and it is spain and it is divisive. the same is true for the other side. you mentioned are. simply call you described the same art was produced in spain during the franco years. artists some of those. you look at those frames and they depict the franco years. i am not so clear that franco was the bad guy and the republicans republicans were the good guys.
there are a lot of gray areas there. things that were 75. >> it created a lot of uproar and the people that yesterday look at the catholic church maybe as oppressors. >> there are certainly other perspectives. we met a really tall handsome, vigorous spaniard who lived on the very edge of the battlefield. it had has never been picked up.
i mean,, franco really detested the republicans. there were know republican monuments when he was in power. our friend who was actually a dental technician but was fascinated by the history of this country and of course, long after the war there's a picture of him in the book. cut a metal detector one day in certain going out on the battlefield and collecting old pieces of artillery shells, bullet casings everything that he could find metal and then started digging around just by and and retrieved brookings calls, fingers bones, eyeglasses teeth.
his basement in his house. these weight shells bringing up the entire wall. eventually he thought i'll donate this the local museum and it was still too controversial. they cannot do that. it's kind of like the american civil war. one of the historians of the american civil war famously said it takes a hundred years before you can really talk without powerful emotions on both sides about the civil war. there were wars between brothers, wars between people who know each other
and even more bloody there for an even more bitter therefore. the spanish were certainly was that. he hoped someday he would be able to donate this extraordinary collection of material to a museum that can curate and take care. >> good evening and thank you for coming and opening this up. you were featured. what process did he use to choose the five books that you chose? >> am having trouble understanding it. [laughter] >> work process did you use to pick the books you featured? >> how did our research the book? >> how did you pick them. >> zero, okay. well, really just because i did not no anything about it
this is my 25th book and i am really fairly free at this.in my life to choose whatever subject interests me assuming i can sell it to my editors. there were several ideas before this one that i could not but then i found this and realized what was still missing from the history. i was a medic in the air force years ago and have a certain amount of training as a surgical assistant. i no a little bit about that that is why the most of the medicine the interest of the it just all kind of came together into a subject that i found be interesting in that readers would like to read about. and it is because it was full of not only all these technological things, but his wonderful love stories tragic stories, people dying human beings living at their most extreme.
one of the things that i found that the new york university library a large collection of manuscripts and letters, memoirs one of the doctors i wrote about is a prominent new york surgeon who volunteered to go over and help out in the war. after he came back to the united states who wrote a complete 400 page book about his experiences with the help of a woman journalist he found. that manuscript was never published. here i was sitting all these years later. the pages, typed pages so brown that we cannot scan them. i have to get someone to photograph each page and type it out by hand basically. it was immensely readable.
the 2nd world war came along. and after the war since he had been a member of the communist party he got caught up in the house un-american activities committee which cited him for contempt of congress because it would not give them the names of some of the people of publication in the report. he ended up spending six months in federal prison command is less is removed for six months, waited it out, participated in things like the medical aid and some of the guerrilla wars around the world, helping out and let a good life. but to have this complete book manuscript to be able to draw on -- and it was one of many manuscripts. it was just a treasure. ..
that changed everything after. have you considered writing about world war i? >> i have and i kind of missed the window. i mean this was the year of the book on world war i. i would love to go back and do it. there still shoals of material that hasn't been dug up. for that matter i don't know if you know that the national archive in washington there's a whole room full of manuscripts
medical documents in particular from the american civil war that have never been opened. they are in brown paper wrappers tied with a ribbon and no one has ever looked at them for 150 years. but i have of course the first world war was extraordinary human experience on many levels but i think i kind of missed my window. i'm working right now in the book starting another book of course. that's how i make my living. working on a book about what sounds like the unpromising subject of energy transition. i will eventually be writing about oil. i am sure i will come back to dallas for months but right now i'm working about england when they ran out of trees close enough to london to be able to afford to transport them. they had to switch to coal and they just hated coal. the preacher said coal is the
devil's excrement. you find it underground. it's black and dirty, it smells like sulfur. obviously the devil did his business there and that is what coal is. stay away from this stuff. they had a terrible time switching to coal. that's the kind of thing again most of the world ran on whale oil are the first half of the 19th century. that is what people use for lighting and they knocked off most of the whales. the reason they had to go to the south pacific to do the work that led to moby dick was there weren't any whales left in the north atlantic. we were knocking off 10,000 whales a year and by the time the 18 50's came along they were going all the way out to the sea sea, all the way up to the arctic. what is to be a two year voyage taking six years in the whales